AquaWatch Inland Water Quality Pilot: Application of Earth Observation and Modelling for Forecasting of Inland Water Quality (Lake Hume, Lake Tuggeranong and Darling River)

This Pilot project aims to demonstrate the AquaWatch system concept for Australian inland and estuarine water bodies. This Pilot project is one of the ‘testbeds’ for new digital monitoring approaches to integrate and visualise ground-based sensor and multiple satellites data streams, combined with modelling application to provide spatially resolved 24/7 information on inland water quality conditions and provide short-term forecasting capability.

In this pilot we will integrate tools and processes for analysing, modelling and forecasting toxic algal bloom. It will highlight the scientific basis for inland water quality monitoring in a multi-sensor space-based system, including crosscalibration process and thereby validating the use of AquaWatch within the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB).

The output will be a ‘a prototype ground-to-space water quality monitoring and forecasting tool’ which is modular and scalable and will inform future operational monitoring and forecasting of toxic algal blooms in the whole of Australian freshwater bodies. This will include a calibrated EO sensor (on-ground and satellite) based BGA blooms detection and monitoring, a prototype computer-based model of blooms forecasting and spatial distribution/maps (dashboard) of waterbodies for a short-term bloom likelihood along with an alert system. Background data on water profile temperature, local meteorological parameters, Chlorophyll-a concentration and cyanobacteria cell counts will be used to develop the prototype early detection and forecasting tools for cyanobacteria biovolume (cell counts) used as triggers for alert levels. This forms an integral part of the AquaWatch mission demonstrating values of an EO based, integrated digital forecasting system to end-user groups for their benefit and adoption. The chlorophyll-a/cell count based results are expected to be used by a wider end-user groups eg., utilities, catchment water managers, river operators, River/Lake tourism and recreation industry, Irrigation industry, aquaculture and mining industries to better manage water bodies. For example, the environmental cost of toxic algal blooms in the Murray River was estimated at $240M/bloom (2010 Ernst & Young Australia report). Results from this project will directly inform operational policy to minimise toxic algal megaevents in future in the Australian inland waters.


Project Leader:
Tapas Biswas, CSIRO